By Richard Mabey Jr.
My father was one of the wisest men whom I have ever known. Now, at 67 years old, I look back and realize more and more, just how wise my dad really was. Sometimes, I think back at the simplest moments that we shared together. Dad would use those magical moments to share his wisdom and his insight of life with me.
Such a time came in the early Summer of 2005. Dad and I had just finished building a home in the small town of Saint Thomas, Pennsylvania. Saint Thomas is a farming town, just west of Chambersburg. It lies along the famous Lincoln Highway, also known as Route 30. There are a lot of Amish and Mennonite families living in Saint Thomas. It is a quaint, peaceful valley that lies in the shadows of the great Appalachian Mountains. Four monumental mountains are home to Saint Thomas. They are Front Mountain, Broad Mountain, Little Mountain, and Kittatinny Mountain.
Dad and I built this home on an old apple orchard that was surrounded by high mountains. You could see the Lincoln Highway from our home. Dad just loved being in the midst of the plain living Amish and Mennonite. For my father, it was a heavenly call to go back to a simpler time, a kinder place, a gentler way of life.
We had 26 apple trees in our backyard. It was something that dad simply reveled in. Dad and I would frequently go outside and pick apples. We’d put them in balsam wood baskets. We had a little cart for the John Deere lawn mower. We would pull the cart about with the John Deere, as we moved from one station to another. It was a most wonderful and glorious time.
Mom, Dad, my sister Patti, and I moved into this wonderful home in Saint Thomas, Pennsylvania, in early June of 2005. Dad went Home to be with the Lord in May of 2006. So, sadly, Dad did not get to enjoy even one full year of the home that he and I built together.
In that last year of his life, Dad loved to sit out on the backyard deck and look at the Appalachian Mountains, not far off in the distance. I remember in early April of 2006, Dad and I were sitting out on the deck. Dad pointed off the Appalachians and said to me, “just think Richie, how many times we hiked the Appalachian Trail here in Pennsy. I never thought I’d be living on its footsteps.”
There was something about the Appalachian Mountains, the feel of the historic Lincoln Highway, the abundance of apple trees, the simplicity of the lifestyle of the Amish and Mennonite, that gave Dad a great sense of peace of mind.
It was only one month after Dad passed away, that a company began building a limestone quarry, less than a half-mile away from our home. The constant blasting of the dynamite, gave way to my mom having intense headaches. From 2003 to 2006, my mom had three brain surgeries for her brain aneurysms.
We would often leave Saint Thomas, because the blasting of the dynamite caused unbearable headaches for Mom. We would visit my mom’s sister and brother-in-law at their farm in Randolph, New Jersey for weeks at a time to escape the loud booms of the dynamite explosions. Finally, we decided to sell the home that Dad and I had built and move to Central Florida.
Life is so very strange, with all of its ups and downs. Fate and destiny are such strange twins. I don’t think that I was in Central Florida for two months before I was writing and editing for a weekly newsletter for the largest diabetic support group in the state of Florida. Then, my neighbor, who worked for a local real estate company, hired me to write copy for the company’s trifolds, pamphlets, and other literature. And, just to put the icing on the cake, after about a year of living in Central Florida, I got a job in the Security Division of my gated community. Over a time span of about eight years, I wrote dozens upon dozens of articles for their monthly employee newsletter. But, all in all, I think I hit the jackpot with the golden opportunity to write for Mr. Nicastro’s publications.
I very often feel the presence of my father’s spirit. I think my dad still is looking out for me. I can feel his guidance, his whisper, his gentle touch upon my shoulder. I am not a theologist by profession. But I have studied a lot of religions, in the course of time. Can any of us say that the Divine One can be limited? Do we really part with loved ones at the funeral’s gravesite? Or, is the power of love so infinite and so omnipotent that it cannot be limited. All I know is that there are times when I can feel the presence of my father so very strongly that it feels that Dad is standing right beside me.
Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at email@example.com. Please put on the subject line: My Life Publications.